Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Minister of Budget and National Planning Udoma Udoma has on behalf of the Federal Government assured that the escalating debt stock, which rose from N21.12 trillion in 2015 to N24.39 trillion in 2018, is sustainable.
Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Patience Oniha, had last week revealed that Nigeria’s total public debt has climbed to N24.39 trillion as at December 31, 2018.
She said the new figure represented a year-on-year growth rate of about 12.25 percent, adding that the report included data on the composition of the public debt data and the breakdown of the debt between the Federal and the State government, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had accused the Federal Government of embarking on what it called a “borrowing spree.”
It said that since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015 there had been unexplained borrowings, leading to a rise in the debt profile from N17.5 trillion in 2016 to N21.72 trillion in 2017 and N24.387 trillion in 2018.
Asked to react, Minister of Budget and National Planning Udoma Udoma told State House Correspondents at the end of the Federal Exective Council (FEC) meeting at the presidential villa, Abuja that government was doing everything to widen it sources of income.
Udoma conceded that the nation has revenue challenges but was hopeful that if government’s attempts to widen tax net succeed the situation of debt will change.
He said: “With regards to our debts, our debts are sustainable. We do have a revenue challenge and we are focusing on that. Once the revenues come up, it will be obvious that we don’t have a debt problem at all. We are working on a number of initiatives to increase our revenues. We are looking at initiatives to widening the tax pays. We are looking at initiatives to increase efficiency in collections. We are looking at a single window, which will help to increase efficiency, custom collections. We are looking at many different ways to improve revenues.
“The debts are sustainable, every nation borrows. We are working on increasing our revenues.
“With regard to the budget, we are happy to see the focus of the National Assembly on the budget and we look forward to whenever it’s passed and the executive receiving it.”